Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

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Applying the Modern Business Plan to Tradeshow Marketing

The ‘modern business plan’ was hatched on a blog post by Seth Godin. I was a recent enrollee in Godin’s The Marketing Seminar, where at one point we were referred to the post which breaks down the five elements of what he feels are the important parts of a modern business plan: truth, assertions, alternatives, people and money.

It’s also possible to apply that thinking to how you approach tradeshow marketing.

The truth of tradeshow marketing would be the facts and figures of the specific show(s) that you plan to participate in. How many people attend? What percentage of decision-makers and influencers are among the attendees? Who are the competitors/exhibitors?

Assertions might include your thoughts on what you believe you know that is not necessarily supported by data. What new products are you launching that might be similar to new products from competitors? What types of marketing tactics and strategies are those competitors using? This is where you state what you believe to be true, although you might not be able to prove it.

Alternatives: ­This is where you play the “what if” game. What if things go wrong? What is your plan B? What if you get lucky by meeting the exact prospect that you didn’t anticipate? What if your top salesperson is poached by a competitor? Hey, anything can happen. At least opening your mind to some of those possibilities gives you a chance to chew them over.

People: who are your best people and how can you best use them? Where are your weak spots and how can you improve with them? Do you need to acquire people to get your tradeshow department to run like a clock and not like a Rube Goldberg machine?

Finally, money: Budgeting, logistical costs, personnel costs. Return on investment, cost of samples. You know the drill. But are your numbers accurate? And did you run the calculations a year later after the show so that you actually know what your return on investment really is?

What is your Return on Objective? Thanks to the Exhibition Guy Stephan Murtagh!

There are any number of ways of looking at your business or marketing plan, but taking this approach helps to clarify several issues at once. Give it a try!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, July 1, 2019: Friendship

There are as many different kinds of friendships as there are friends. Some are business-related, some are school or college-related, others are just friendships you struck up from people you met randomly. This episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee peeks at friendships.

Here’s a link to 50 Inspiring Quotes About Friendship from Inc.com.

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING is the Mueller Report.

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Top Ten All-Time Most Viewed TradeshowGuy Blog Posts

I got an email the other day from someone whose newsletter I had just subscribed to, and in the introduction email there was a link to the top 5 most read blog posts on her blog. That’s when an idea light lit up over my head and gave me an idea for a blog post (as a blogger, you’re always looking for ideas, right?).

Next thing you know I was pawing through my Google Analytics account to find out what were the most-viewed posts on this blog. These are the ones that floated to the top, for whatever reason. It’s all organic. I don’t advertise, but I do share links now and then on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. On occasion there might be a link here from Pinterest. Or another blog.

This blog is aging. It’s over ten years old, having been launched in November, 2008. There are almost 1000 posts.

One more note: the analytics breakdown shows the front page as “most-viewed” and a couple of pages (not posts) showed up in the top ten as well, including the Contact Me page and the We Accept Blog Submissions page. But beyond that, here are the top ten blog posts since the beginning of the blog (in traditional countdown order):

Number Ten: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Exhibit RFPs. I created a one-page sheet on what should go into an Exhibit RFP (Request for Proposal), and posted it on Cheatography.com, a site for thousands of cheat sheets. Kind of fun. They regularly sent me emails telling me how many times it was downloaded (500! 1000! 1500!). Not sure how accurate that is, but obviously it’s been seen by a lot of people. From September 2017.

Number Nine: Breaking the Ice: How to Attract Tradeshow Visitors. I referenced a number of techniques taught by tradeshow colleague Andy Saks for this article, which appeared in December 2015.

Number Eight: 23 Pre-Show Marketing Tactics, Promotions and Ideas. A laundry list that was posted in October 2009 when the blog was not even a year old.

Number Seven: How to Build a Tradeshow-Specific Landing Page. Inspired by Portland’s Digimarc, it’s a look at the steps you can use to put together an online site specifically to interact with potential tradeshow booth visitors. From December 2017.

Number Six: Write More Orders at Tradeshows by Replacing Paper With Digital Technology. One of two guest posts on the Top Ten list, this is from Sarah Leung of Handshake. April 2015.

Number Five: Tradeshow Debriefing Questions. Another oldie but goodie, this post from September 2009 guides you through the after-show info-gathering process.

Number Four: Virtual Reality for Tradeshows. You’ve seen them at shows: people wearing VR goggles. Is it worth it? A brief exploration, from June 2016.

Number Three: Exhibit vs. Booth vs. Stand. They’re called different things in different parts of the world, so I took a whack at trying to explain it. Just last summer in July 2018.

Number Two: 10 Skills Every Tradeshow Staffer Should Have. Margaret Coleback of Vantage Advertising LLC dashed of a great list for staffers, which appeared in January 2015.

Aaaaand, at Number ONE: SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. It still surprises me that this post gets a whopping 3.95% of all of the traffic on the site. At the time I wrote it I had been spending a fair amount of time with a friend who was going through school to get his degree in marketing, and one thing that we discussed in depth was the SWOT Analysis. S=Strengths; W=Weaknesses; O=Opportunities; T=Threats. It’s a great exercise to work through in regards to your tradeshow marketing appearances. Check it out. It’s from February 2015.

Got any favorites?


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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 20, 2019: Disconnecting

In such a connected world, there is a lot of value and importance placed in disconnecting from everything for a short while. But do we really do it that much? In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I disconnect from the grid for a few days.

ONE GOOD THING: Disconnecting or Unplugging.

Need to disconnect? Take a look at this. Or this. Or this.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 6, 2019: Change

How do we handle the changes that come at us in life? Sometimes the change is planned, other times its thrust upon us.

This short episode of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee looks at change. Also, tradeshow tip of the week, and ONE GOOD THING:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The 27″ iMac desktop.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 22, 2019: The Marketing Seminar

I’ve alluded to Seth Godin’s The Marketing Seminar a few times in recent blog posts and podcasts/vlogs. In this episode I discuss the online seminar in more detail – without giving away much at all. It’s a great course, and I highly recommend it. Check the below for some bonus Seth Godin material.

Seth Godin bonus Material:

Rare Q&A Video, a New Workshop and a path forward for entrepreneurs (blog post and a nearly two-hour video).

Brian Koppleman’s The Moment podcast: January 2019 interview with Seth Godin.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The NBA Playoffs.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 8, 2019: Tom Beard

What does it take to be sustainable in regards to your tradeshow marketing program? Regarding your tradeshow exhibit booth? In today’s episode of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I chat with Tom Beard, National Sales Manager of Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays:

Check out the original interview with BJ Enright of Tradeshow Logic on NAB Show Cares here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: the new Kamasi Washington album “Heaven and Earth.” Here’s his website.

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Lessons from Good and Bad Bosses

I’ve had a lot of bosses over the years and have learned things from them. Sometimes because they were good bosses, sometimes because they were bad. But bosses are good people to learn lessons from, one way or the other.

The first boss I had was in a little radio station in a small town in Oregon. He was a diehard Baptist and I think that colored his approach to things (not to say Baptists are bad, just using his religion to show where it came from in him). He thought every other song on the air we played on the top 40 station was about picking up girls and having sex with them. Okay, I thought that was a little weird, but when he said it time after time, I realized he was a little obsessed.

The Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life?” Yup, about picking up girls and having sex with them.

Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown?” Same thing, only a lot funkier.

Sammy Johns’ “Chevy Van?” Well, definitely. In fact, if you listen to the lyrics, that’s exactly what it was about.

So maybe he had a point.

He was also rather high-strung besides being focused on songs being about guys picking up girls. There was the time he rushed into the station all aflutter and demanded that I stop the record so he could go on the air and deliver an urgent news report. I waited until the record was over, turned on his microphone in the newsroom and put him on the air. His urgent report? He’d seen an accident where someone ran a stop sign and hit another car going through the intersection. Which was basically a side street in a residential area. So it wasn’t really affecting anyone except the people in the cars, and it was a minor crash anyway.

My takeaway and the lesson I learned? If you’re a boss, being high-strung is not a good way to operate. Unless you like to inject fear into your employees. To me, that’s never been much of a motivator.

A number of radio Program Directors I either worked for, or heard about from fellow DJs, approached dealing with their subordinates by yelling at them. Putting the fear into them. “STOP DOING IT THAT WAY! DO IT THIS WAY!” And so on. Again, not a good motivator. It made you fear the next time you were on the air, knowing he’d be listening and ready to nitpick you to death.

Back in my Radio Daze

Another boss I had years later in radio – the best boss I ever had in radio – taught me a lot about how to communicate with employees. His name was Carl, and as Program Director, he was my direct boss. When it came time for an “aircheck” session in which we’d listen to telescoped recordings of my on-air presentation, he approached it completely differently than anyone I’d worked for before. We’d listen for a few moments as he made notes, at which point he said something like “That was good, this was good, and I’d like you to work on this, this and this.” This critique was delivered pleasantly and with encouragement. And you frankly couldn’t wait until you got behind the microphone again. No pressure, just build you up while you work on things that he requested.

Another boss I worked for in radio was the station owner in a mid-size town. He respected all employees as professionals, so there was very little he said about our on-air work. But I do remember a few things he said.

“When you have good news, bring it to me immediately. I like to celebrate good news. When you have bad news, get it to me even quicker. I want to be able to know it, understand it and deal with it as quickly as possible.” Makes sense to me.

In dealing with clients or partners, he’d always try to get the last dollar from them in any negotiation. He told me he wanted “to see how much money was left on the table.” Another good lesson.

Finally, the last “real” boss I had was Ed at Interpretive Exhibits, the first and only boss I had outside of radio. Since Ed, the only bosses I have are clients. And generally, they’re all great to work for and with.

Ed did a number of things that were important. He showed me the spreadsheets on how he estimated monthly, quarterly and yearly earnings, a format I still use today (he retired and closed the business in 2011 which led me to start TradeshowGuy Exhibits). He also spent a lot of time explaining how things worked in the industry. In particular he walked me through, dozens of times, how he created estimates for big exhibit jobs. He’d break it down step by step, figure out the reasonable time it took to do something, and added about 50%. Why? Because in his experience, he saw that the original estimate was almost always low. Which meant that even experience shop managers didn’t accurately calculate the amount of time it takes to do something. Even down to how many steps and how much time it took to offload something from a truck using a forklift. Armed with that info, I’d occasionally clock the time and the steps it took, and he was right: the shop guys almost always underestimated how much time it took.

And time is money, so if you’re estimating time (labor), you’d better be right, or as close to right as possible.

You can learn lots from bosses: what to do, and what not to do. Some are good role models, others not so much. Take away what you can from each one.

And by the way, if you’re wondering who the world’s worst boss is, you should read this.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 25, 2019: Dave Scott

For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast-slash-vlog, I thought it’d be fun to chat with a longtime radio broadcaster that I’ve crossed paths with a few times during my radio career. Dave Scott started in radio about the same time I did – the mid-70s – and has tales to tell. So that’s fun.

But one of the reasons I wanted to talk to him was to get more information about his new podcast, Embrace the Change, which you dan find at his website, DaveScottNow.com.

Check out Dave’s podcast – I think you’ll enjoy it!

And this weeks’ ONE GOOD THING: Ichiro Suzuki, who just retired from his Hall of Fame baseball career.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 18, 2019: Expo West Recap

Natural Products Expo West is in the books for another year. About 85,000 attendees, 3,600+ exhibitors made for a crazy, chaotic and ultimately fun week in Anaheim. From the Airbnb in Santa Ana where I caught a little down time between long and busy days to the early morning free breakfast and the after-show Oregon party at McCormick and Schmick’s, it was a helluva week. Take a look:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Paul McCartney’s album “Memory Almost Full.”

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